The West

Labor s rail promise
Mark McGowan

OPPOSITION Leader Mark McGowan promised to make rail a priority for the region should Labor be elected next March.

Mr McGowan was in Bunbury a day after announcing Labor’s plans for a new rail network for Perth.

While Mr McGowan said Labor would release its rail plans closer to the election, he did not make mention of reopening the Greenbushes to Bunbury rail or a fast train from Perth to Bunbury.

“Rail will always be a priority under Labor and we will release our exact plans in January and February as to what we are proposing to do,” he said.

Premier Colin Barnett allocated $5 million to fast-track upgrades to the Greenbushes line in the “first 100-days of the Liberal-National Government”.

But plans to reopen the line were abandoned after the Government ruled there was no economically viable use for the idle railway.

Construction and running costs of a fast train to Bunbury were estimated to be more than $1 billion by the State Government in 2010.

While the Public Transport Authority has drawn up plans for a fast train, with the track running along Koombana Drive to vacant land near the Mantra Hotel, no time frame for construction has been set.

Mr McGowan said, if elected, Labor would have to “confront the incredible blow-out in State debt”.

“On the other hand we have to recognise where the priorities are – and our first priority would be delivering what we have committed to,” he said.

The State Government’s transport commitments to the South West have been $25 million for upgrades to the Coalfields Highways, $16 million for changes at the Eelup roundabout and a mix of State and Federal funding for the $170 million Bunbury Port Access Project.

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